Many people across the globe suffer silently with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). In an effort to educate the public and help those affected, June 27 has been named PTSD Awareness Day. This is a great opportunity to talk with family and friends and learn more about this disorder and how it affects those around us, particularly our service members.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health disorder that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threating event. According to the PTSD Foundation of America, an estimated 7.8 percent of Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives, while about 30 percent of service members who have spent time in war zones experience PTSD. Typically, only 50 percent of PTSD sufferers seek treatment.
Given that service members are one of the most vulnerable populations when it comes to stress-related illnesses, the American Red Cross has created dedicated services to help military and veteran communities deal with emotional and mental health issues like PTSD. Helping military members cope with everyday stressors or take control of their mental health before, during and after deployment is especially important.
Cutting the Stigma
“Asking for help is very hard because some people don’t want others to know that they are getting treatment or going to a program to solve their mental and emotional issues”, says Jaime Cruz, Service to the Armed Forces specialist for the Red Cross South Florida Region. “There is a lot of stigma and taboos around this because it can be perceived as a sign of weakness and prevent further military career development if not addressed properly.”
The Red Cross helps active military members and veterans, as well as their families, in every aspect related to the deployment cycle, and offers resources to help them know how to cope with their feelings, reactions and stressors.
Resiliency and Reconnection Workshops
For families, the Red Cross offers Resiliency and Reconnection workshops, for military members who come home and have trouble reconnecting with family and community. When those difficulties are not addressed or guided by a specialist, it can take a toll on the whole family. The Red Cross offers workshops that focus on effective communication, stress solutions, defusing anger, how to deal with trauma, connecting with kids and so much more. These workshops provide a space of expression for service members and their families to acknowledge the things that they have been going through and allow them to speak freely about their experiences. Given the complex nature of PTSD, the Red Cross approaches every service member or veteran’s case individually.
For Cruz, a former service member himself, “It was very frustrating to have anxiety, sleeping problems and depression and not know what to do about it. I used to scream in the middle of the night without remembering anything the next morning. I also used to yell at my wife for everything,” says Cruz, who finally sought help. Being able to express his own feelings was crucial in his recovery.
Mind-body workshops are another resource the Red Cross provides to those who deal with PTSD. Each workshop teaches participants how to connect mind and body using different techniques and exercises intended to train the brain in managing emotions and thoughts. These techniques can help improve personal and professional growth.
If you or someone you know suffers from PTSD, please call us at 1-877-272-7337 or visit us at Register for Reconnection Workshops to get more information on how to join one of our future workshops. For more information or to sign up for a virtual workshop, call your local Red Cross chapter or contact them by visiting redcross.org and type in your zip code.
This information was provided by the American Red Cross, South Florida Region.